- Even though grilling and smoking food are both done outdoors, they are quite different. Grilling is done by cooking foods at high temperatures and with direct heat, whereas smoking foods is done with indirect heat at lower temperatures. Because flavored wood chips are used when cooking with a smoker, the food will be infused with a pleasant flavor that any ordinary grill can not do. Wood chips come in all sorts of flavors, such as honey barbecue, oak wood, mesquite and apple. When designing and building an electric smoker, there are only a few things you will need to have available.
- There are a variety of different things that can be used as the shell or body of the smoker, but the cheapest and most portable thing that can be used is a large metal trash can--a new one, of course. A trash can is ideal because it can withstand high temperatures and they are light in weight, so they can easily be moved from place to place as needed. The lid of the trash can will be used to cover the smoker while it's at work. Other things can be used such as a 10-gallon barrel, but since you are designing an electric smoker, drilling a hole in the side of a thick 10-gallon barrel won't be much fun.
- When using a trash can, 10-gallon barrel or something similar, you will first need to use a drill to make a hole near the bottom so the electric cord of a hot plate can be pulled through. You will also need to drill three small holes in the lid. Two of the holes should be at least 1/2-inch in diameter so smoke can escape. The other hole should be roughly 1/4-inch in diameter. This third hole is where a temperature gauge will be inserted, so you can ensure that the temperature stays between 240 and 275 degrees. Once this is completed you will want to place an electric hot plate on the bottom of the trash can or 10-gallon barrel, and pull the cord through. You will then want to place a metal wood chip box on top of the electric hot plate. This is where you will place flavored wood chips. The heat that the hot plate generates will cause the wood chips in the wood chip box to begin to smoke.
Choosing A Grill Grate
- The size of a grill grate is dependent upon what you choose to use as the body of your smoker. Regardless of whether or not you use a trash can, 10-gallon barrel or 5-gallon barrel, a round grill grate is the ideal shape. You will need to use measuring tape to find the proper measurements and circumference of the opening of the smoker. The circumference of most trash cans and gallon barrels get a little smaller towards the base, so you will want to choose a round grill grate that is at least 1-inch smaller than the circumference. This will ensure that the grate will rest nice and snug toward the top of the smoker.